State Dept. official broached Pompeo's role in Ukraine in new testimony

State Dept. official broached Pompeo's role in Ukraine in new testimony
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A leading State Department official testified before Congress on Saturday and touched upon Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoHere's how the US can pressure Lebanon's new government tackle corruption Trump questions why NPR exists after Pompeo clashes with reporter Senate Dems to Pompeo: Comments about NPR reporter 'insulting and contemptuous' MORE's role in the administration's dealings with Ukraine — the issue at the center of the Democrats' fast-evolving impeachment investigation into President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump denies telling Bolton Ukraine aid was tied to investigations Former senior Senate GOP aide says Republicans should call witnesses Title, release date revealed for Bolton memoir MORE.

Philip Reeker, acting assistant secretary of European and Eurasian Affairs, broached the topic of Pompeo while being deposed in the Capitol by the three House committees — Intelligence, Oversight and Reform, and Foreign Affairs — leading the impeachment investigation, according to Rep. Scott PerryScott Gordon PerryDCCC to run ads tying 11 House Republicans to Trump remarks on entitlements Koch network could target almost 200 races in 2020, official says Overnight Health Care: New drug price hikes set stage for 2020 fight | Conservative group to spend M attacking Pelosi drug plan | Study finds Medicaid expansion improved health in Southern states MORE (R-Pa.), a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

"I can't get into the details," Perry said, "but certainly there are questions."

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Perry, who has been a vocal defender of Trump throughout the impeachment process, emphasized that he felt there was nothing in Reeker's testimony to indicate that the president or anyone is his orbit had acted inappropriately in their dealings with Ukrainian officials.

"The accusations that are being leveled against the president aren't being corroborated in any of this witness testimony," Perry said. "And today, in my opinion, is no different."

Democrats, though, emerged from the closed-door testimony with a different view; Rep. Stephen LynchStephen Francis LynchBiden leads 2020 pack in congressional endorsements Election security, ransomware dominate cyber concerns for 2020 Hillicon Valley: Groups file appeal over net neutrality ruling | Lawmakers raise concerns over foreign apps | Payroll data stolen from Facebook MORE (D-Mass.), a member of the Oversight and Reform Committee, suggested Reeker was providing more evidence of presidential misconduct in Ukraine.

"He is corroborating previous witnesses and their testimony. So it's helpful in that respect," Lynch said. "I think it's fair to say it's a much richer reservoir of information than we originally expected." 

Pompeo has emerged as a central figure in the Democrats' impeachment inquiry, particularly after revelations that the secretary of State was on the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump asked Zelensky to launch a corruption investigation into former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump denies telling Bolton Ukraine aid was tied to investigations Former senior Senate GOP aide says Republicans should call witnesses Title, release date revealed for Bolton memoir MORE, a leading 2020 Democratic presidential contender.

That request was confirmed in a transcript of the call released by the White House earlier this month. A government whistleblower has taken the episode a step further, alleging that Trump had threatened to withhold almost $400 million in U.S. aid to Ukraine if Zelensky failed to comply.

In May, as the pressure campaign was evolving, Pompeo recalled then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie YovanovitchMarie YovanovitchWhite House spokesperson: Media's 'obsession' with impeachment 'won't let up' Trump questions why NPR exists after Pompeo clashes with reporter Cotton: Democrats are 'upset that their witnesses haven't said what they want them to say' MORE, a career diplomat who has served under numerous administrations of both parties. Yovanovitch's removal came after she voiced concerns that the administration had crossed a line in enlisting foreign help to boost Trump's 2020 campaign, and in her testimony to Congress earlier this month, she told lawmakers she thought her removal was politically motivated. 

The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday that Reeker was prepared to testify that his effort to rally support for Yovanovitch was thwarted by Pompeo, whose defense of Trump's handling of the Yovanovitch affair has infuriated many State Department veterans.

Yet Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsSunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for week two of impeachment trial Meadows says Trump told him he didn't threaten senators on impeachment vote Impeachment trial to enter new phase with Trump defense MORE (R-N.C.), another Trump ally, suggested that the media was sensationalizing testimony that was fundamentally unrevealing.

"That would be an unbelievable headline," Meadows said. "And I would say, in general, that's not consistent with what we're hearing from the deposition."

Meadows characterized Reeker as a "B player" in the Ukraine episode.

"I don't see him as being directly involved with firsthand knowledge," Meadows said, adding that Reeker was not on the July 25 phone call. "Ukraine was one of dozens of countries that he oversees."

Democrats have already subpoenaed Pompeo for documents related to his involvement in the Ukraine saga, but following last week's testimony from former Pompeo adviser Michael McKinley, many Democrats want Pompeo to appear before Congress as well.

“The secretary has some hard questions to answer,” Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), a member of the Intelligence Committee, said last week after McKinley's deposition.